The international challenge for the 2009 Dubai International Racing Carnival may be the strongest ever assembled but they will certainly not gave it all their own way with a ‘home defence’ that is certainly the most powerful we have seen.

As always, Godolphin trainer Saeed Bin Suroor has a powerful string at his disposal which includes some very exciting young recruits such as Midshipman and Vineyard Haven who will be aimed at the Classics.

Supported by a team of older, seasoned campaigners and handicappers, they will want merit respect throughout the $31million extravaganza.

New trainers Munarak Bin Shafya and Abdulla Bin Huzaim will be looking to open their Carnival accounts with the former training horses such as Happy Boy and Dijeerr, while Bin Huzaim has Dieerr’s brother Plavius.

Ismail Mohammed, leading trainer at the 2007 Carnival, is also back this year.

Champion Trainer Doug Watson and former champion Ewan Charpy look to have the strongest teams elsewhere with Watson’s Force Freeze and Green Coast two who have already demonstrated their wellbeing this season.

Joined by a plethora of high-profile new recruits, such as Barbecue Eddie, Merchant Marine, Classic Blade, World Ruler, Weald, Pallodio, Shopton Lane, Prince Shaun and Masaalek, supplementing regulars like Mutasallil and Mutamarres, Watson is looking forward to the Carnival: “We have a lot fewer domestic season horses this year and the Carnival has been the focus

“We have a really nice team thanks to His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum and the other owners, like Malih Al Basti and I am very grateful. Hopefully we can get among the winners.”

Charpy, meanwhile, has a very powerful team at his disposal and Grantley Adams, Emirates Gold and Rampallion have all won Listed races in the first part of the season to advertise their claims.

Carnival regulars Singing Poet, Golden Arrow and Munaddam are joined by exciting horses such as Tajdeef, Hello Morning and Tasteyville and the Frenchman is quietly optimistic: “We have some nice horses certainly but Carnival races are never easy to win as we all know.”

Dhruba Selvaratnam is able to welcome back stable stalwarts Seihali and Marbush this year after injury, while Ali Rashid Al Raihe has made a tremendous start to the season and will be looking to continue in the same vein.

Musabah Al Muhairi’s Leitmotiv was pipped on the line last week, while Satish Seemar’s Pointing North is a horse with a big reputation.